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Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Today is the National Day of Writing, so this is a tribute post to Writing, my trouble-making, soul-inspiring companion throughout life.

“Words are sacred… If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” ~Tom Stoppard

Love is a choice. You feel a spark with a person and you choose to embrace it. Even with family–the biological club you are born into–love is a choice. You have shared experiences and a mutual spark and you choose to love them–for better or worse. And as my recent posts on the value of friends like Naomi and Sister Kate might lead you to believe, I have been made much better for loving these people.

Love is such a profound word to tie to something like coffee (which I adore) or ice cream (which is also pretty much the best) or even a concept like baking (which is one of the most relaxing things I have ever done). Really, the term ‘love’ doesn’t belong with any of those things. I crave coffee; I enjoy coffee; but I don’t love coffee. Writing, on the other hand, I do indeed love.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” ~Flannery O’Connell.

There are times that writing is hard, grueling, painful work. I get headaches from craning my neck at my computer screen (or maybe those headaches come from banging my head against my desk in frustration). My characters can be as illusive as my own thoughts. And writing becomes a chore, something I have to work at instead of enjoy. But I stick with writing because I love it. Every day I choose not to ‘have been an author’ but to ‘be an author’; to put one foot in front of the other and stay faithful to one of the greatest gifts God gave me.

“This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy and that hard.” ~Neil Gaiman

“Create: verb. The act of banging your head on the desk until something interesting pops out.” ~Unknown.

Writing is the way I discover what is going on inside my own head; the way I decide on a future course of action; and one of the pivotal ways I learn about God’s nature. It has been my faithful companion on late nights and early mornings; in lonely airports and crowded coffee shops; in times of joy and times of abject grief. God put writing inside of me and He lets me use it to connect with the world around me. If I could only tell you all the stories of the impact in my own life and the lives of others…

In July I shared this post on why I choose to write. “I think story-telling, with its power to embolden the hearer and enrich the speaker, is one of the greatest gifts God gave us. Stories… provide a context for situations that would otherwise overwhelm us… (They) are a medium worth a life’s work.”  I still feel the same way. And it is worth noting again this line from Westmark:

“I make nonsense of the world to help others make sense of it.” ~Lloyd Alexander.

It’s only fair this post is wordy–after all, it is a post about writing. So I feel I can sneak in one final quote:

“But whatever you do, find the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated passion of your life, and find your way to say it and live for it and die for it.” ~John Piper.

I don’t know whether I was born to be a writer; but I do know that I choose–now and forevermore–to be one.

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It’s been a long time since I took up my figurative blogging pen, but, in my defense, it has been just as long since I have reserved a corner table at the local Starbucks. The two are directly tied together. Thanks to some generous birthday gifts and, with any luck, a more peaceable schedule, I hope to get back to both.

So grab your favorite hot drink and join me for a little catch up…
Where to start? Coffee. I still love coffee. And my niece. She’s full of smiles that warm my heart. Oh yeah. I had a birthday. The best birthday so far.

IMG_0310I went into work one average Monday morning to find a scavenger hunt had been laid out for me. I admit to being a bit thick at the time of day and slightly stuck in a mire that had quenched both creativity and intellect, so it took me far longer than it should have to understand what was coming. As it turned out, my parents had booked a midweek get-a-way to NYC for hot-tubbing, shopping, eating really good food, and–most importantly–The Piano Guys first concert at Carnegie Hall (which also turned out to be a live recording… so cool!). I had dreamed about going to the concert in that savory ‘I’ll-never-do-this-but-it-would-be-once-in-a-lifetime’ way, especially because TPG was flying in artists from all over the world in a special celebration. But that my parents pulled the trip off in the middle of our busy lives and a WORK WEEK… epic.

So the very next day we headed down to New York, where I promptly found that Marvel’s Avenger S.T.A.T.I.O.N. was stillIMG_0362
very much alive in the Discovery Museum just outside Time’s Square. Who could turn down becoming agents or trying on Iron Man’s armor in a virtual sim that allowed for flight and weapon’s testing? And, yes, we had Starbucks in the city on a less-crowded walk before proceeding to Carnegie Hall for what will become one of my favorite memories. Showing my dad–who is definitely not a city guy–the M&M’s store and petting a life-sized Sven at the Disney Store was the whipped cream on my hot chocolate.

The Piano Guys exceeded my expectations and the whole trip had the effect of restoring good spirits and creativity to my seriously depleted stores. The proof is in the pudding: the very next day I had a writing marathon of 13,000 words (to give you some context, the aggressive NaNoWriMo program gets people to write 50,000 in a month).

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Flash forward to my actual birthday–one of cake and goofy faces and family–and I had all I could wish for. I could continue to go into great detail about the fun we had and the jokes we shared and the friend that took me to the movies that coming Friday, but I think I have probably used up enough words for the time being. 483 to be exact.

Thanks for joining me in a cup of joe and a good conversation. May your day be full of funny faces and joy. Your friendly neighborhood writer,

Jessie Mae

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Dear Friends,

Life continues to astound me. Despite my perpetual and utter uselessness when it comes to my novel, I’m in a downright peppy mood as I jam out to Francesca Battistelli’s new album: If We’re Honest (Deluxe). “Sometimes it feels like Starbucks is my permanent address,” she sings in I am Home, a song that describes home as so much more than an building and contentment as so much more than reaching goals. With lyrics of longing while fulfilling her dreams loaded into her last work, I am encouraged and thrilled to hear her choice to be happy right where she is. And that happiness doesn’t come from dreams. It is Paul’s ‘secret of contentment’ found in Philippians 4:12b, “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content,” and in 1st Timothy 6:6, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Oh, what gain!

10245289_10203033352971455_4028926361156906554_nI am still amazed that I chose not to attend grad school and remain in complete loss as to what the future holds. Yet, as I slug my way through the mire of same-old-same-old and the maze that is The Lure of Lemons, my life is getting downright exciting. It is more than my favorite coffee filling up the kitchen or the flowers I was given yesterday for Administrative Assistants’ Week. It is more, even, than the gratitude I feel for being asked to teach a mini-writing camp this summer as well as to take on a writing student for the fall semester. Truth is, whatever is coming, its certain to be good. Because God is the Author of my story.

Sure, there will be crashes when everything will fall apart. Honestly, they happen more than I want to admit. Yet, I am learning, that good is not the absence of tragedy. My future is bright because it is controlled by Someone a whole lot more intelligent and creative than I am. He is not fumbling around wondering what’s going to happen, like I am in The Lure of Lemons. He is beauty and mercy and power and crazy in love with me and in absolute control. In that knowledge, there is contentment. Poor or rich, successful or failure, author or not. Contentment.

To close, some lyrics from Battistelli’s He knows my name:

“I don’t need my name in lights. I’m famous in my Father’s eyes. Make no mistake. He knows my name.”

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This weekend saw the celebration of the life of my sister. And what a wonderful celebration indeed! We partied according to our unique style, incorporating all the things we value–which means nephews and coffee and cooking and Hobby Lobby and on-sale clothes. And if that wasn’t enough to make the weekend wonderful (despite my muscle spasm which my physical therapist has already begun course-correcting), then Sunday should have been the frosting on my cupcake. The worship service followed by an afternoon of conversation, laughter, and (you guessed it) coffee. Yet, this was not all I was blessed with. The weekend extended for Columbus Day.

It was supposed to be another work day for my parents. My dad was going to get up early, go to the family farm in Topsfield, and bring home some wood. But, instead, he and my mom moved those labors to a different day. They stayed home. And it felt like we were back on vacation together once more.

At a little before 8 AM, I woke up from my Benadryl-induced stupor (for some magical reason it helped with my tight muscles) to the sound of my father’s laughter. It put me on the right side of the bed and I hurried downstairs to enjoy freshly-brewed coffee and warm cinnamon-buns and episodes of a television show that make us laugh. Then we ventured into the universe to have lunch together and to (be still my beating heart, my dad wanted to…) go shopping. It was a wondrous weekend. As I get back to real life, I am grateful for the strength and encouragement of family.

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It is amazing the diversity you can find even in Maine. Just walk into Starbucks and people watch for a few minutes.

You’ll get a range of people from those who wear sweat-pants to business suits. You’ll see the jeans, scarves, coffee-addict, tied to their headphones, and clicking away on their computers to race a homework deadline types (I’m one of th0se). You’ll meet the social type, who come to Starbucks mostly to interact, either with the staff or the people they planned to meet.

You can tell when people feel out of their element in Starbucks, but overall it is a fairly flexible place that welcomes those from all backgrounds, individuals and big groups, the rich and the poor. It is the new melting pot where up-and-coming business eople mingle and where friendships can be formed. It is Starbucks.

My thoughts tend to wander while I’m here. It is hard not to give into the creativity oozing from the music, energy, and thick smell of coffee. Writing tempts me, even poetry calls out while I’m here. Nonetheless, it is a good place to get down to work.

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On my desk is a sign: “No coffee… No workee.”

Before I went to bed last night I watched an episode of the Dick Van Dyke show. In it, Rob watched an alien movie and proceeded to have a dream about an alien trying to take away his thumbs and his imagination. So, of course, what do I dream of but being abducted by aliens?

Now, there are any number of important things you should discuss with your alien kidnappers. I argued for the release of the child with me (look at how heroic I am even in my sleep!). And then, spent the remainder of my dream persuading the aliens that I would have a hard time living on a planet with no  coffee. No coffee… no livee.

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“I’m Jessie Mae,” pause for an answer. “What’s your major?” pause for an answer and a return question, “What’s your’s?” “Business,” pause for an answer. “Where are you from?” pause for an answer. Interject that I am from 20 hours away (without stops) in Maine. Sometimes we will delve a little deeper, depending on the situation and if the personalities mix or clash. This has been pretty much the conversation for the last three days between all the students. The shallow water is already getting old, but it will not take long before we will be in the deep end.

Once again I am surrounded by distinct characters: a photographer with a talent for acting (he had us all convinced that he was part of the senate here at CIU and the head of the cooking department. Everyone wanted to join even after we found out it was not real), a jersey girl, a sweet next-door-neighbor (who is coming over for coffee and Lucky Charms tomorrow morning before all of the freshmen head to some kind of beach/camp thing. I will be driving and she will be my co-pilot), an easy-to-get-along-with (blessing from God) roommate, a poet, a resident life director with a dry sense of humor that reminds me so much of my brother, Charlie… My mind is already percolating with new characters and plotlines and different twists on old ones. (That is what will make it so hard to stay focused on Asandra, which has a lot of editing left if it is going to be done by November.) I love drawing on inspiration of life! I love the feeling of imagination at work.

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